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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Geechie Boy Mill will rebrand as companies reexamine racial connotations

Name will be announced later this month

Posted by Parker Milner on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge JONATHAN BONCEK FILE PHOTO
  • Jonathan Boncek file photo
Geechie Boy Mill owners Betsy and Greg Johnsman announced the company would change its name on Wednesday, joining national brands that are addressing racial connotations associated with their names.

“We have taken the first steps in the process to make this change. What will not change is our commitment to providing the highest quality products to our customers,” said the Johnsmans in a press release.

Geechie Boy Mill supplies grits, cornmeal and other grains to restaurants in Charleston and around the country. The Johnsmans decided to keep the name intact when they acquired the business in 2003, but moving forward, they will choose a new identity for the brand without "causing harm or discomfort to anyone."

click to enlarge Greg Johnsman - JONATHAN BONCEK FILE PHOTO
  • Jonathan Boncek file photo
  • Greg Johnsman
In the Lowcountry, Gullah Geechee refers to the people and culture of those descended from formerly enslaved Africans who settled in tight-knit communities along the coast of the Carolinas and into Florida. During Jim Crow segregation in America, the term "boy" was a dismissive reference used by white people.

“We appreciate all of the concern we have received recently, and we have taken it to heart. Once all the legal requirements are met and the paperwork is complete, we will announce our new name. Thank you for your patience as we make this transition," the press release read.

Geechie Boy Mill isn't the only company coming to terms with the racial connotations of its name. Recently, the parent companies of Uncle Ben's and Aunt Jemima announced that those brands would be retired over their reliance on racial stereotypes.

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